By: Leticia Gbeway (Correspondent Ghana)
The Ministry of Aviation, in partnership with Zoomlion Ghana Limited (ZGL), has disinfected open spaces of the entire Kotoka International Airport (KIA) ahead of today’s reopening for international flights.
The country’s main airport has been opened to emergency services only since March when the Covid-19 pandemic started gaining ground, and the exercise was done in preparation for the resumption of full operations which form part of the effort to contain Covid-19.
About 1,200 passengers will arrive in the country from other parts of the world.
The Minister of Aviation, Joseph Kofi Adda, said the government had put in place adequate safety measures at KIA to protect passengers and staff from the virus. These measures, he mentioned, included the installation of Covid-19 testing facilities to stem the spread.
The General Manager in charge of Vector Control of ZGL, Rev. Ebenezer Kwame Addae, explained the exercise was the second time the airport had been disinfected, and it was meant to destroy the disease “at the airport environment.”
He said “while the first disinfection exercise was targeted at curbing the spread of the virus, the second one was aimed at destroying every virus hiding around the airport environment.”
According to him, there would be regular disinfection exercises which would be carried out.
He assured members of the public of their safety, adding “with the strict observance of the Covid-19 safety protocols, the airport will be safer for all.”
Earlier, a Deputy Minister of Health, Dr. Bernard Okoe Boye, addressing a news conference at KIA, reaffirmed that the country had put adequate measures in place to be able to detect possible Covid-19 cases at the airport.
The Ghana Airport Company has deployed more than 80 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test machines at the Kotoka International Airport as part of measures to ensure safe reopening of the country’s airports to international arrivals today.
The machines rated as 99.5 per cent sensitive will enable rapid testing of all passengers who arrive at the airport to ascertain their COVID-19 status before being allowed into the country.
In all it is estimated that about 1,200 passengers will be arriving on daily basis at the initial stages of the reopening and each passenger will be expected to undergo mandatory testing in addition to other laid-down protocols before he or she is allowed safe passage.
Briefing the media on their preparation towards the Presidents, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s directive for the country’s air borders to be opened in Accra Monday the Managing Director of the company, Mr Yaw Kwakwa said apart from the high level of accuracy of the machines, it also offered convenience for passengers who would be arriving in the country.
According to him seven sample collection booths with the capacity to collect samples of two persons at a go had also been deployed to ensure that people who arrive were not stressed in the process.
He said on the average it would take a minimum of 10minutes and a maximum of 30minutes for a test to be completed.
Mr KwaKwa explained that the cost for the testing which had been pegged at $150 would be borne by individual passengers, stressing that, “As part of arrangement for the reopening of our airports, it is mandatory for all passengers arriving in the country to undergo mandatory test, the cost of it will be borne by the individual.”
In addition to the testing, he said it was mandatory for passengers traveling into the country to wear face mask as well as show proof of negative test from an accredited laboratory from their countries of origin.
The Deputy Minister of Health Dr Benard Okoe Boye on his part said the requirement which made it mandatory for passengers to have a certificate of proof of negative was to ensure a zero rate of risk.
He said the PCR test machines deployed were not only sensitive but also had a higher turnaround time.
Dr Boye explained that as part of the broad mechanism, the necessary precautionary measures that would ensure that samples were taken in safe environment had been put in place.
Justifying why the amount of $150 was being charged for the test, he said a number of factors including a comparison of how much was being charged in neighbouring countries were considered.
He said the amount being charged was one of the lowest in the sub-region, adding that, “We arrived at the $150 charge having considered a number of factors including what is charged by neighbouring countries.”
The Minister of Aviation, Mr Joseph Kofi Adda said experiences garnered in the special evacuation flights as well as the limited domestic operations came in handy.
“We have been very rigorous in our adherence to these well-known protocols, including disinfection of the airports and aircraft,” he emphasised.
He explained that sticking with the protocols would not be new however, it was the increase in the number of passengers that could pose as a challenge, adding that, “That is why the Ghana Airports Company, supported by the Ghana Port Health have instituted special measures to ensure the effective management of the process is maintained.